Georgia passed some of the state’s toughest human trafficking laws in 2011.
Anyone caught using coercion to traffic someone under the age of 18 faces a 25-year minimum sentence. Anyone who has sex with a 16-year-old is sentenced to a minimum of five years and those who try to have sex with someone younger than 16 will get at least ten years.
Human traffickers with adult victims now face 10-year prison terms.
The bill protects those forced into prostitution if they can prove coercion. And the victims would be eligible for state money for medical treatment if they cooperate with law enforcement.
“It’s another tool in the prosecutor’s tool box,” said Patterson, who is also president of the District Attorneys Association of Georgia.
Patterson, two Floyd County detectives and an assistant district attorney from Rome recently attended training on human trafficking cases.
They watched a video of a survivor who told a story of being passed around at a party after having something slipped into some soda and being shared with a room full of men. The teen didn’t tell her parents, who were from a middle class home. “A lot of victims have low self-esteem,” Patterson said.
No human trafficking cases have been prosecuted in Floyd County. “I hope that we don’t have any cases, but I am sure we will,” she said.
Monday’s press conference will begin at noon in the north wing of the State Capitol in Atlanta.